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Course diversity

There are 60 licensed racecourses in Great Britain and not two of them are alike. With the exception of Chelmsford and Ffos Las all the courses date back to 1927 or earlier maturating their own characteristics, shape, size, cambers, gradients, undulations, right and left-hand travel (including ambidexterity), altitude and various surface-types. No other country in the racing world has our course diversity, but has this feature been truly factored/translated into our betting decisions?

Scant consideration for the course title

We would suggest not, personal experience confirms a serious lack of learning in this regard even from seasoned pundits. Winning or losing in professional sport often comes down to the smallest of margins - a winning or losing bet is repeatedly determined by those small margins. Seasoned bettors to pundits tend to focus on the form of the horse, trainer, jockey and the price, mistakenly there is scant consideration for the the course title. If accepting the opening premise we must classify the course or its inherent nature into help or hindrance categories, if the course negatively impacts upon the bet, we stand down and wait for another opportunity.

Catterick v Beverley

For example, a small nimble speedy juvenile suited to a fast 5f has two entries, one at Beverley and the other at Catterick - which race gives the best percentage chance of success? Forget opinions, mathematics and common sense gives us the answer. The Beverley 5f is uphill all the way and takes a lot of getting particularly if the word soft is in the going title. In total contrast the Catterick 5f is downhill all the way but with an extreme downhill first furlong, clearly enabling the small nimble type and not the large galloping sort. These two courses could not be more different but how many of us actually know that?

Every racehorse has optimum conditions

The configuration of a racecourse should be a prime consideration before wagering. Every racehorse that has ever been born has its own optimum conditions that have been genetically predetermined, our job is to marry a bet to the racecourse and surface whenever possible, failing that we seek conditions to suit.


To hone our betting we set up a composite antechamber and incorporated the course/surface the horse would race on, with other critical features including trainer form, class, ground, distance, and jockey competence. Each element receives different weighting and always used in a relative sense. Here is a typical example of our composite:

BROOKLYN BOY 1.50 Lingfield at 11/10

Play 4 To Score At Betway Handicap (Class 6) (4yo+ 0-65) 1m4f

Pedigree: 68,000gns Y; 5th foal; half-brother to winners Revived (5f inc 2yo; RPR 77), German Whip (7f/1m AW; 74) and Music Stop (6f 2yo; 55); dam French 6.5f winner, half-sister to 5f Group 2 winner Land Of Dreams (dam of Dream Ahead) out of 5f 2yo Group 3 winner

Trainer Form: 3-14 for 21%   (10)
RPR: 88                      (10)                               
Optimum Ground: Standard     (10)
Optimum Distance: 1m4f       (10)
Jockey: Sylvestre De Sousa   (10)

The Racing Horse Composite:  (50)

The scores are marks out of ten and based on a factual/mathematical perspective as opposed to an individuals opinion. Trainers not in form figure on the composite. That said, certain trainers would not make the composite irrespective of good form and this includes jockeys. This could be for a number of reasons including trust and reliance. It is important the horse has recent evidence of class or ability based on its last run or second last run, hence our need for a good or top rating. The horse has to run on optimum or near optimum ground and over its preferred distance. Basic stuff but nonetheless crucial, and something that could easily be ignored or missed in the hullaballoo. These remarks are a little crude but we insist these top five boxes are ticked before any thought processes! As a general rule we prefer a score of 8 or higher in each of our boxes and a total score of 47 or above.

To assist, we developed templates of most of the UK Racecourses for reference and periodically refer to it when considering compatibility of horse to course to surface. Updating the template is very simple and once done makes for a most persuasive overview. So what form does this template take?

Overview and some key elements

Primarily, we are most interested in recent form so use statistics for the current year, when starting a new year we refer to the previous quarter until we have a large enough sample to replace them. The template is made up of an overview containing four key elements. Rather than explain it we would like to walk the reader through the first example. The four elements highlight how the favourites perform in both handicap and non-handicap races for the different age groups, then the trainer, jockey and owner statistics at that particular course. Even a cursory look will give the reader a switched-on feel for the course and we promise its pertinence will be of significant value.



Suffice it to say The Racing Horse never considers wagering until acknowledging what the betting landscape is telling us at that particular racecourse, hence our RACECOURSE TEMPLATES! To know more what one of these templates look like we look at Chelmsford on the AW and then ask yourself if there is value in such a record? We think so and this betting landscape changes dramatically from course to course revealing its bias, some of which continues for years.

For example, did the reader know that 3yo winning favourites in non-handicaps at this course win 51% of the time, or did they appreciate that winning favourites in non-handicaps across all age-groups have won 252 times from 532 races for a massive 47% strike rate? Be honest - did you? From a decent sized sample 3yo favourites win in non-handicaps 21% more than those in handicaps. The numbers must have value!


Chelmsford FAVOURITES (5 years)
Non-handicap                     Handicap
2yo:    93-204 for 46%  (+3.37)   35-85   for 41%  (+13.11)
3yo:   120-237 for 51% (-14.16)  138-453  for 30%  (-79.44)
4yo+:   39-91  for 43%  (-2.19)  279-820  for 34%  (-41.04)
Total: 252-532 for 47% (-13.69)  452-1358 for 33% (-107.37)

TOP 5 TRAINERS at Chelmsford for current year
Stuart Williams: 9 wins from 35 for 26% (-1.60)
Michael Appleby: 5 wins from 51 for 10% (-2.13)
Charlie Appleby: 4 wins from  8 for 50% (+1.41) 
David Simcock:   4 wins from 21 for 19% (-4.25)
Mark Johnston:   4 wins from 22 for 18% (+1.87)

TOP 5 JOCKEYS at Chelmsford for current year
Adam Kirby:     7 wins from 27 for 26%  (+4.30)
Kieran O'Neill: 6 wins from 32 for 19%  (-8.62)
Ben Curtis:     6 wins from 36 for 17% (-19.38)
Grace McEntee:  5 wins from 18 for 28%  (+5.37)
Luke Morris:    5 wins from 40 for 13%  (-8.15)

Chelmsford City has a polytrack left-handed surface and is essentially galloping in nature. Prominent tactics have proven an advantage especially over sprint trips.

Winning favourites in non-handicaps do particularly well from a decent sized sample showing a strike rate of 47%. Even 2yo favourites in handicaps strike at 41%. Saeed bin Suroor shows 48-151 for 32% (+7.01) and John Gosden 55-230 for 24% (-55.15) over the past 5 years are the two trainers to watch.

Once racing resumes we will include an up-to-date Racecourse Template with our Pacafi Composite & Rationale and genuinely believe combined together gives the reader/member a circumferential reasoning of the race and the meeting.

Today's Pacafi: click here

Our information and betting advice is for educational purposes only. Please exercise caution when acting upon our advice and remember that gambling carries risk. No liability is taken by the site or product owner following any of the information given or sold to you. Betting always involves a level of risk and you should never bet more than you can afford to lose.

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